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Fall, the present season, is associated with rich natural harvests. Similarily, I hope that your research and ongoing projects will also bear abundant fruit.  

Selected with the support of Humanities Korea (HK) and formulated as a 10-year project with the aim of approaching Korean reunification issues from humanities-based perspectives, the 1st and 2nd phases of the Humanities’ Unification Research Project have been efficiently completed. These two phases successfully passed the evaluation conducted by the National Research Foundation of Korea between May and October this year. It is now ready to commence the 3rd phase’s four-year research project. 

For the three years of Phase 1, emphasis was placed on a theoretical search to academically establish and systemize humanities-based reunification discussions related to the phase goal, which was to “establish the epistemological framework and the value theory of reunification humanities.” As a means of materializing this, the “Ethnic Commonality Project” was conducted and remarkable results were achieved. 

For the three years of Phase 2, efforts were made to socially diffuse the reunification-humanities theory that had been established in the previous phase. Setting “applying and expanding reunification humanities” as the goal for this phase, we intended to disseminate the concept of reunification humanities both on and off campus and even abroad. First, as establishing an academic identity for reunification humanities was considered urgent, a department of reunification humanities was created in September 2014 in the graduate school. This is a joint course and currently there are approximately 20 domestic and international graduate students studying the discipline. Moreover, after investing a great deal of effort into developing textbooks on which the social expansion of reunification-humanities education can be based, we published three different versions of these textbooks in order to suit each demographic: adolescents, university students, and the general public. 

With an emphasis on developing the content of cultural studies related to reunification and also on developing an educational program for reunification humanities, we endeavored to convert the source material that we had already accumulated into reunification-based content. As a result, we were chosen to conduct the “Humanities Bridge” project, a support project for disseminating humanities that was designed by the National Research Foundation. Along with being selected to conduct this project, we were also awarded annual research grants of 200 million won and recently received the great honor of being selected to perform the “Digital Humanities” project, which is an initiative to create content relating to the DMZ of the Cheorwon area. Since it is very rare for a single research entity to continually be chosen to conduct large-scale projects relating to reunification, we have received growing interest from research groups both in and outside of the school.  

Even abroad, efforts to expand reunification humanities have shown some degree of results. Last year, four universities from Korea, China, and Japan jointly initiated a global forum on reunification humanities in Tokyo’s Korea University and, in September 2015, they successfully held the 2015 global forum on reunification humanities in Yanbian, China. Furthermore, to acquire knowledge of the German reunification as a means of preparing for post reunification, we engaged in direct consultations with the Institute for East German Studies at the Free University of Berlin and with the Center for Korean Studies, and formulated an internal agreement to jointly pursue a reunification research project. 

For the four years of Phase 3, a goal was set toward primarily organizing the results that the Institute of the Humanities for Unification has strenuously achieved over the previous six years. By establishing “social practices for post-reunification and the creation of a humanities-oriented vision for reunification” as a phase objective, I would like to propose, in preparation for reunification, a vision for population, social, and cultural integration in the post-reunification era. Additionally, I would like to have this vision include the implementation of practices through which socially actionable measures can be created.

Realistic efforts, not slogans, will surely be required as a means of ushering in the era of reunification. Your encouragement and advice will play an essential role in this. Mindful of your active participation in achieving substantial reunification, we now take a big step forward.